iPhone assembler Hon Hai says component shortages easing

Overall supply constraints are expected to ease in the second half, said a spokesman for Hon Hai Precision Industry. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (BLOOMBERG) - The biggest assembler of iPhones said component shortages that have plagued electronics production for more than a year are showing signs of easing, a potentially encouraging signal for manufacturers across industries.

There will be a major improvement in parts shortages in the first quarter of the year, with "overall supply constraints" set to ease in the second half, Mr James Wu, a spokesman for Hon Hai Precision Industry, said during a company event in Taipei on Thursday (Feb 10).

A shortage of components, in particular computer chips, has hurt production of everything from cars to smartphones as demand rose during the pandemic.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) and its peers have indicated chip supply will remain tight throughout 2022, and carmakers, including Ford Motor and Toyota Motor, recently warned about an ongoing impact from the semiconductor crunch.

Power management chips are still in short supply, Hon Hai's Mr Wu said. The Taiwanese company, which buys about US$55 billion (S$73.8 billion) of chips a year, is striving to minimise the impact from supply-chain challenges, he said.

The company expects first-quarter revenue to be little changed compared with a year earlier, Mr Wu said.

Manufacturers around the world are racing to build up inventory out of the fear that outbreaks of the Omicron variant and other uncertainties could further disrupt supply chains.

In January, TSMC chief executive C.C. Wei told analysts he expects companies to maintain a higher level of inventory than previously to ensure supply security.

In addition to being a key manufacturing partner to Apple, Hon Hai makes gadgets for global brands including Dell Technologies, Sony Group and Nintendo. It is also expanding in production of electric vehicles, agreeing in October last year to acquire Lordstown Motors' pickup manufacturing facility in Ohio.

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